Pick your plan: Medicare class can clear the confusion
If you go
What: "Evaluating the best Medicare assistance plans."
When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for four Mondays starting Sept. 28.
Where: Blackhawk Technical College, Central Campus, 6004 South County G.
Cost: $4 for seniors and $24.28 for non-seniors.
For more information or to register, go to www.blackhawk.edu or call (608) 757-7661.
JANESVILLE You've got your plan B and your part C.
And you've got your co-pay and your drug plan and your medical savings account.
And then there's supplemental options, and don't forget the out-of-pocket costs and that who's-it what's-it thingy.
Good luck choosing your Medicare plan.
Picking the right plan is crucial for both your health and your pocketbook. Yet choosing the right plan can be like trying to teach a cat to polka. Even if you speak the cat's language, it's going to be a frustrating and complicated process.
Enter Bill Simmons, a guy who has no interest in dancing cats. But he does want to save money and get the best from his health care dollar.
Starting Sept. 28, Simmons will lead a class called "Evaluating the Best Medicare Assistance Plans" at Blackhawk Technical College.
Simmons will teach participants how to navigate the government's Medicare Web site, Medicare.gov.
"You have to decide what's important to you," Simmons said. "For Rock County, there are about 63 plans to chose from. Then there are another 20 supplemental plans."
Simmons started on his Medicare adventure as a GM retiree.
"I was paying $190 a month for my GM insurance, and then I was paying co-pays," Simmons explained.
He took a look at what he was paying for his own coverage, considered his own health, which was good, and decided he could get a better deal with Medicare .
He spent about 100 hours total on the Medicare Web site.
Was he crazy?
"It's not really crazy when you're faced with those decisions," Simmons said.
Medicare plans range from "$0 to $2 to $300 a month," he said.
Here are the basics:
-- Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. Everyone who qualifies for Medicare gets Part A.
-- Medicare Part B is medical insurance for doctor visits. Everyone gets this, as well.
-- Medicare Part C is "Advantage" plans. They are sometimes referred to as "supplemental plans."
-- Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage.
Part C and Part D plans have significant variations, and it's important for seniors to consider factors such as how many and what kind of prescription drugs they use, their overall health, how often they go to the doctor, what kind of co-pays they can afford and a variety of other factors.
The Medicare Web site can help seniors figure out what the best plan is. They just have to know who to use it.
That's where Simmons comes in. He understands the site.
For example, one of the site's features allows people to punch in all their prescription drugs and calculate which drug plan is best.
Many people are reluctant to change plans because they are worried about being covered, Simmons said.
"Health care is so important to people, and they're so afraid of changes," Simmons said. "But the government says that all of the plans have to cover what Medicare covers."